PTSD 101 – What it is and How to Support Someone

May 28, 2024 | 
Service Members and Veterans | PTSD Awareness Month

Our mental wellness is constantly changing. We all deserve support when we need it.

Traumatic events impact everyone differently. For some people, the impacts of trauma can develop into Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), a diagnosis that is treatable with evidence-based therapies.

Despite being very common, PTSD can often feel hidden. PTSD can go undetected or, once diagnosed, may only be known to the person experiencing it and those closest to them.

PTSD awareness is a critical component of getting the support you need.

Call 988 to reach the national lifeline if someone you know
is experiencing a PTSD or other mental health emergency.

What is PTSD?

Sometimes people experience things that are unusually or especially frightening – traumatic events like a serious accident, assault or abuse, a natural disaster, a war, or an unexpected death or serious injury.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a clinical diagnosis of symptoms and behaviors that many people experience after enduring or witnessing traumatic events.

Studies suggest that about 5% of adults live with PTSD.

2023 lfl blog ptsd graph page image 350x215 1

Certain groups of people like survivors of violence or sexual assault, refugees, survivors of natural disasters, and warzone deployed service members and Veterans may be at increased risk for developing PTSD.

Although many people exposed to trauma don’t go on to develop PTSD, we can all play a role in creating compassionate and understanding communities that support people who have experienced trauma.

Everyone can benefit from understanding PTSD warning signs, available treatments, and how to get support.

Support for PTSD

How do I get support for PTSD?

You deserve mental health support that is free of judgement or discrimination.

If you think you may have PTSD or you have been diagnosed with PTSD and need support, make an appointment with your doctor or a mental health professional.

If you live in Oregon and haven’t been able to find a provider who is a good fit, our Behavioral Health Support Line offers free, confidential, short-term support to connect you with long-term solutions.

Call Oregon’s Behavioral Health Support Line: 1-800-923-4357
24/7 | Free | Confidential | For Anyone in Oregon | Age 18+

What if I’m experiencing racial trauma?

Racial trauma is the emotional impact of stress related to racism, discrimination, and race-related stressors like stereotypes, micro aggressions, or being treated as less-than.

Racial trauma can negatively affect physical, mental, and emotional health. In some cases, racial trauma may lead to PTSD.

Any experiences of racial trauma can make existing PTSD or other mental health problems worse.

You’re not alone. Confidential, help from a caring professional is available.

Call the Racial Equity Support Line: 503-575-3764
24/7 | Free | Confidential | For Anyone in Oregon | Age 18+

What if I’m a service member or veteran?

Many providers, although highly skilled, are unfamiliar with military culture and the unique needs of service members and veterans. Connecting with someone who understands what you’re going through can make all the difference.

If you’re a service member or veteran, there are two easy ways to get immediate support and referrals to additional resources to help you and your loved ones find hope.

Call the VA National Veterans Crisis Line: 988, press 1
24/7 | Free | Confidential | Text and chat options available

Call Oregon’s Military Helpline: 1-888-457-483
24/7 | Free | Confidential | Not affiliated with the Department of Defense

Resources: How can I support someone struggling with PTSD?

Here are some ways to lend your support:

  • Be supportive and nonjudgmental. Ask to share your observations and concerns with the person in your life and consider other resources like PTSD: National Center for PTSD Home ( that can help with the discussion.
  • Learn the difference between evidence-based treatments and alternative treatments. Navigating treatment options with a healthcare provider is recommended. Keep in mind that substance use, including tobacco, alcohol, marijuana and any mind-altering substance, can increase the prevalence of PTSD symptoms and impair treatment.
  • Be mindful of situations and events that may be difficult for those with PTSD. By asking our loved ones – especially those we know have survived trauma – what they need, we can prepare for events that may be difficult. For example: Some people struggling with PTSD have difficulty with the sound and sight of fireworks, which can exacerbate stress and panic responses. Since fireworks are a common part of 4th of July celebrations, making a safety or support plan in advance can be beneficial.
  • Talk openly about mental health in families, schools, workplaces, and communities. Doing so helps increase our collective understanding and empathy about mental health conditions like PTSD.

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